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Sending postcards while traveling is a quaint habit some of us are loathe to let go. Yet it’s such a hassle to gather our loved ones’ addresses, buy stamps and find a post office, when we can just upload a few shots to Facebook or send a mass e-mail.

A new service called Postcardly looks to bring postcards into the technological era. Take just a few minutes to register online and create an e-mail for all the people to whom you’d like to send a postcard — a simple process — and you can create and send personalized postcards as easily as you send an e-mail.

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Here’s how it works. Once you register at Postcardly.com, you can load your contacts’ names and mailing addresses into the system. Each will be assigned a unique e-mail address to which you can send a photo and brief message (700 characters or less).

Postcardly will print your photo on a piece of 4.25″ x 6″ cardstock (standard U.S. postcard size) with your message on the back. A real, tangible postcard should reach your recipient within a week. (Our test postcards arrived in three days.)

The cost is $0.99 for a domestic postcard and $1.98 for international mailing. Postcardly gives you three free postcards to start when you sign up for a monthly plan ($4.99 for five postcards, $9.99 for 15 or a one-time charge of $19.99 for 20) and you can earn extra freebies when you get others to sign up.

What we liked:

-You can send your own photo instead of a generic shot.

-It’s convenient — you can send a postcard from your computer, smartphone or tablet.

-It’s great for staying in touch with the technophobes in your family. If Grandma is afraid of Facebook, you can send her postcards of the same photos the rest of the family enjoys online. Bonus: She can decorate her fridge with your smiling face or show you off at bridge club.

-Military APO and FPO addresses are priced the same as domestic addresses.

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What we didn’t like:

-It’s not practical for large mailings, such as birth announcements or party invitations.

-The picture quality isn’t much better than what you could produce with a decent photo printer at home. (For best results, upload the highest-resolution image you can.)

-There’s no pay-as-you-go option, although you can cancel at any time.

Final verdict: Could be a fun alternative to Facebook updates — especially for those who appreciate mail or like to put their fridge magnets to use.

— written by Jodi Thompson

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One Response to “Postcardly: A New Take on an Old Travel Tradition”

  1. Paul says:

    Thanks for the great write-up, Jodi! We’re really glad you had fun with it.

    We’re also working on an easier way to import more addresses for mass mailings, since typing in more than a few is a pain. Some of our customers did holiday cards with Postcardly this year, but we’d like to make that process a lot more convenient!

    And I hope you’ll try to send more cards to test printing quality. We run everything on a commercial Xerox iGen printer that’s the size of a pickup truck, and it can get photo-quality 600dpi—so it depends a *lot* on the resolution, image size, and quality of the original. You’re right that people should send the highest-res image possible. Like from my iPhone, I always send the original, which is typically 2 or 3MB, and they look great.

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